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Banksy booby-traps his "girl with balloon" painting to self-destruct after a phone bidder pays £1.04 million for it.

For an artist that's known for his stunts, this could be Banksy's most flawless art world prank.

"Girl with Balloon", one of Banksy's best-known works, disappeared into a shredder hidden in its frame as the hammer fell at £1,042,000 pounds (€1.2 million), a sum that matched the artist's previous record sale, auction house Sotheby's said.

If a work is damaged while in the care of an auction house, a buyer would not normally be expected to go through with the purchase.

Just after the painting was sold, the piece "self-destructed" and was shredded through what is thought to have been a remotely activated mechanism in the frame.

"It appears we just got Banksy-ed", said Alex Branczik, head of contemporary European art at Sotheby's. "It's certainly the first piece to be spontaneously shredded as an auction ends".

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Banksy shared an image of the artwork being shredded on Instagram and captioned it "going, going, gone".

In a statement, the auctioneers Sotheby's said they were in discussions with the purchaser of the destroyed artwork, who they described as "surprised".

Banksy is a Bristol-born artist whose true identity - despite rampant speculation - has never been officially revealed.

Prior to its shredding, the framed "Girl with Balloon" - spray paint and acrylic on canvas mounted on board - depicted a girl reaching out toward a bright red, heart-shaped balloon.

He came to prominence through a series of graffiti pieces that appeared on buildings across the country, marked by deeply satirical undertones.

Girl With Balloon originally appeared on a wall in Great Eastern Street, London.


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